Posts Tagged: The Guardian

Shock and Awe

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There’s a misconception about what is truly shocking – that the shocking is the purely explicit. It seems to me that’s easy, and it’s been done in literature for centuries. What’s problematic, the real way to be shocking, is to have an unstable tone, or to use the wrong tone, the tone that’s not appropriate or that’s deemed inappropriate.

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Writers’ Wages Keep Falling

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A not-too-surprising result of a new poll shows that authors’ annual wages continue to fall and are now below $5,000, reports the Guardian. Authors who split their writing between traditional and self-published methods seemed to fare best, on average.

Overall, half of the writers – traditional and independent – surveyed this year earned $1,000– $2,999 or less.

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Carol Ann Duffy’s First Ladies

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In a playful reflection on the work and philosophy of poet Carol Ann Duffy, Jeanette Winterson explores the possibilities for storytelling, feminism, and everyday entertainment through poetry. Winterson excerpts poems from The World’s Wife in the voices of historical better halfs real and imagined, from Dorothy Wordsworth with her daffodils to Mrs.

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The Uncomfortable Shock of Recognition

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Over at the Guardian, Scottish author Irvine Welsh makes a case for Bret Easton Ellis’s often reviled, always controversial American Psycho as a modern classic. Welsh—the author of his own modern classic, Trainspotting—defends the novel, insisting that the qualities that make it uncomfortable for us as readers are why it’s so profound:

American Psycho holds a hyper-real, satirical mirror up to our faces, and the uncomfortable shock of recognition it produces is that twisted reflection of ourselves, and the world we live in.

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A Nobel Refusal

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Jean-Paul Sartre became the only Nobel literature laureate to voluntarily decline the honor in 1964, but as newly released archives from the Swedish Academy reveal, it was at least partially due to a failure in correspondence. Sartre wrote to the Nobel committee that fall, as they were deliberating on a ballot with no runaway favorites; if his letter had arrived before they came to an agreement, the decision might have swung another way, perhaps resulting in a win for Mikhail Sholokhov a year early, or for Auden, who never received a Nobel prize.

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Science Fiction’s Diversity Makeover

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For the Guardian, Damien Walter applauds the growing diversity of science fiction titles in 2014, particularly the work of Kameron Hurley and Anne Leckie’s debut novel Ancillary Justice. Of Leckie’s work Walter writes:

Its unconventional take on gender politics helped Ancillary Justice make a clean sweep of the Hugo, Nebula, Clarke and BSFA awards, a rare and deserved achievement.

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Ways of Speaking

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In his seminal book Ways of Seeing, critic and novelist John Berger deconstructed the framework of presuppositions through which we view visual images. Over at the Guardian, he reminds us that language is also a process, one in which layers of meaning combine with a writer’s own relationship to words:

This practice reminds us that a language cannot be reduced to a dictionary or stock of words and phrases.

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Journalism vs. Silicon Valley

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What is really at the heart of the debate over The New Republic?

The tension between an engineering culture and an editorial culture is …damaging and oversimplified … but definitely real. At the recent Newsgeist conference – a coming-together of technologists, educators, journalists and executives – one of the most animated sessions was called “Product versus Editorial” and, if there had been an option for us to express ourselves with primal screaming, it would have shattered the windows, such was the frustration of those who have to work with both.

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Genealogy of Hobbits and Hiawatha

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Through his research for an article for the journal Tolkien Studies, John Garth believes he has discovered a surprising source text for several episodes from Middle Earth: Longfellow’s trochaic epic, “The Song of Hiawatha.” The dragon Smaug has long been associated with the hoard-dragons of ancient Icelandic sagas; Garth suggests that the particular manner of his death—felled by the hero’s Hail Mary arrow—points back to Hiawatha’s battle with Megissogwon, a spirit of wealth.

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A Girl’s Guide to Activism

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A seven-year-old in California scored a big win for the little guy (or, in this case, the little girl) by convincing Abdo Publishing to stop marketing their Biggest, Baddest Book of Bugs exclusively to boys. Young reader Parker Dains took umbrage with the title, and the other titles in the same series, writing:

You should change from “Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys’ into ‘Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys and Girls’ because some girls would like to be entomologists too.

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Diversity Matters

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Daniel Handler’s (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) recent racist joke at the National Book Awards exposed an uncomfortable truth about the American publishing industry: its overwhelming whiteness. For the industry to survive, it must embrace diversity. Over at the Guardian, Carole DeSanti points out that regardless of changes in the business of publishing, what matters is the content:

…any gains in the format and pricing wars are going to be wiped out if content is less and less relevant to the way people live, who we are, and what we aspire to be.

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On the “Novelty” of Strong Women

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For the Guardian, Hannah Ellis-Peterson discusses the success of Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist. Since its debut this summer, the author’s first novel has received acclaim for its strong female characters. However, Burton has since expressed frustration over the perception of “strong women” in fiction as a “novelty”:

I’ve always struggled with this notion of a ‘strong female’, because all the females I know in my life are strong, and it’s a term that suggests that by default they would be weak and they are extra-special as a result.

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